There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world--Carl Sagan
On the space exploration frontier get those check books out to the tune of ~ 19 billion dollars. Can you even imagine what we could do to mitigate the environmental challenges here on home-station earth? Water toxicity and air quality need significant attention and funding as we roll back to the era of "lakes on fire." What about solar energy or other eco-friendly reforms targeted to agriculture and antiquated "right-to farm" policies? In my state of NC hog farming is decimating water supplies and air quality--the industry owns everything but the "waste" so the farmer is left with a whatever works mentality, hence the lakes of hog waste.
Let's pivot back to Alzheimer's disease. The Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools or RePORT from National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides estimates of funding for various research, condition, and disease categories. The spend per year for Alzheimer's disease and associated dementias exceeds a billion dollars by the US government and a 2.5 billion dollar investment by Pharma each year.
Are we naive enough to believe that investing 3.5 billion into R&D for what is ostensibly a complex cascade of metabolic derangements and pathologic senescence will yield a worthwhile outcome at the patient level? Again think about the upstream possibilities of investment in social determinants of health and healthy aging. Aging is not just about getting "old". It is about infrastructure and much larger frameworks.
After the Fact is a podcast from the Pew Charitable Trusts. A recent bonus episode, How Today's Generations are Changing the World describes the 6 generations currently sharing the planet and how by midcentury there will be 2 billion elderly people and 2 billion young. This first ever combined statistic will represent 40% of the world population. If we keep a narrowed focus on solving diseases of aging with monotherapeutic cures instead of how to address "labor supply, family structures and finances, demands on health and welfare services, housing", education, transportation and other variables with downstream impact on health what becomes of our society?
My point remains--neuroscience is a relatively young discipline...
Before we get excited and committed to discovering water on new planets--let's stop polluting the water here on earth. Our ancestral selves will be thankful...